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Secrets vs Excellence Which One to Choose?

Canada
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Secrets vs Excellence Which One to Choose?

Hello,

My husband and I are looking at booking our first trip to the Dominican Republic in December and I've narrowed our resort options down to Secrets Cap Cana, Secrets Royal Beach, Excellence El Carmen and Excellence Punta Cana. I'm having a hard time figuring out which one would suit us best.

For reference, we stayed at Secrets Akumal and Secrets Maroma in the Riviera Maya (both non-preferred club) last year. We liked both resorts but definitely preferred Secrets Akumal for the tropical atmosphere and a la carte lunch options.

Our main criteria are:

- Close proximity to a golf course (20 minutes or so)

- Tropical feel with vegetation as opposed to mostly concrete

- Wide variety of restaurants and always having at least one restaurant open (ex. some resorts have none open between 3-5 pm and we don't want that - room service doesn't count)

- Not a party resort

- Nice beach with soft sand and lots of shade available - white sand and clear blue water preferred but it's not a deal breaker

- Snorkeling nearby would be a bonus but I understand that snorkeling in the Punta Cana area isn't very good

Another factor that is making the decision hard is the option to go with the Preferred/Excellence Club or not. At all of the resorts it looks like the "club" guests have access to separate beach areas, pools and restaurants that non club guests don't. We don't care too much about the difference in room amenities, but I'm not sure if we would regret not booking a club room and not having access to the additional areas of the resort.

For the price of a Non-Preferred Tropical View room at Secrets Cap Cana we can get an Excellence Club Junior Suite Private Pool room at Excellence Punta Cana or an Excellence Club Ocean View room at Excellence El Carmen.

For the price of a Preferred Club Tropical View Room at Secrets Cap Cana we could get an Excellence Club Beachfront Honeymoon Swim Up Suite at Excellence El Carmen. I'm not sure that we would want to spend that much, but we would consider it.

I'm leaning a bit towards Secrets Cap Cana or Excellence El Carmen, but I'm really not sure. And also not sure if it's better to book a higher category club room at one of the lower priced resorts or book a non-club room at Secrets Cap Cana. If the club pools are generally the quieter pools and if there is some benefit to the club beach area other than just being a separate section, then I think we would probably lean towards a club level room, if not then I'm not sure if it matters that much.

Sorry for the long post and thank you for any insight you can provide.

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12 replies to this topic
Baltimore, Maryland
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6 reviews
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1. Re: Secrets vs Excellence Which One to Choose?

I also just started researching for November but the lowest price room at Secrets Cap Cana was $693 per night. I have no idea about the distance to a golf course. There are posts on here by Flipflopman that he did live from both of the Excellence resorts and there are links to his photos. I can't go backwards. Did you mention Secrets Royal Beach. I get the impression that they share restaurants with the family resort next door.

Mentioned in this post
Sanctuary Cap Cana by Playa Hotels & Resorts
Sanctuary Cap Cana by...
5,176 Reviews
Dominican Republic
Pennsylvania
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3,413 posts
6 reviews
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2. Re: Secrets vs Excellence Which One to Choose?

I have stayed in the EC Beachfront Honeymoon Suite at Excellence El Carmen twice and have also stayed at Excellence Punta Cana twice. I have albums of both properties here: lovethesun.slickpic.com

Secrets Cap Cana is definitely on my radar. I have stayed in a Cap Cana and know the beach that SCC sits in is beautiful. More beautiful than either of the Excellence properties and it is close to some of the best golf courses on the island. Snorkeling right off of the property is not good at any of your choices.

Are you using a travel agent to get your prices? Try using Master agent last for these properties and you might be able to get a quote for a Preferred Ckub room at SCC that beats the best room at the Excellence properties. I get the feeling the SCC is more compatible with what you are lookin for.

Mentioned in this post
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Destination Expert
for Punta Cana
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1,806 posts
48 reviews
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3. Re: Secrets vs Excellence Which One to Choose?

I had a non-preferred tropical room category at Secrets Cap Cana. I was upgraded to a non-preferred oceanview room there. I see preferred as a waste at Secrets Cap Cana. I can't speak for the other Secrets resorts, but for that one. SCC is overall a low-key quiet resort. The non-preferred beach and pool areas are mostly quiet anyway. There was premium liquor at the non-preferred beach bars and pool area. I had a tablet in my room which is the same as preferred. I didn't have a butler, but I had concierge who manned my building. He gave me his number through What's App and I communicated with him through that. If I had any requests or questions, he was very quick to respond..

I always upgrade the amenities/services at resorts normally because of FOMO, but I really didn't see the point in it at SCC. The only thing that I missed out on in my eyes was not having access to Rosewater (exclusive preferred restaurant) and Oceania at breakfast (only serves preferred guests at breakfast). That's it. Definitely wasn't broken up over that, lol. I walked past the preferred beach and I thought the non-preferred was more appealing. Non-preferred beach had bali beds and swing beds in addition to loungers and palapas. At the non-preferred pool, there were loungers, ample umbrellas, and covered daybeds. I snagged a Bali bed at the beach or covered daybed at the pool every day that I was there.

Drink service at the non-preferred beach and pools were great. Servers were always checking in even before you finished your drink. They have a flag system at the beach. If you need a drink or service, put the white flag standing up in the sand...Brilliant! Food was amazing at SCC. Definitely the best hands down out of all the AI's I have been to in PC. I ate at any restaurant that I wanted each night. No reservations necessary. I had to wait maybe 4 minutes max and that was at the Italian restaurant. Even their buffet (Market Cafe) was pretty good with the food.

Beach is the best that I have seen in Punta Cana. Water is nice and calm like pool water. Many different shades of turquoise blue. Sand there almost feels like baby powder and is very near white. There is a sandbar, so you can go all the way out into the ocean and the water is still only up to your chest.

I highly recommend SCC. I would spend the money on a higher room category at SCC vs going preferred.

Mentioned in this post
Sanctuary Cap Cana by Playa Hotels & Resorts
Sanctuary Cap Cana by...
5,176 Reviews
Dominican Republic
Punta Cana
Punta Cana
Dominican Republic
Canada
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829 posts
28 reviews
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4. Re: Secrets vs Excellence Which One to Choose?

I’m not using an agent and booking directly with the resort because I need a flexible cancellation policy and am booking flights separately using points. I’m looking at AAA rates for the Secrets resorts.

Canada
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829 posts
28 reviews
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5. Re: Secrets vs Excellence Which One to Choose?

Thank you for the info so far. Secrets Cap Cana does look great but I also worry that by December the construction next door might be pretty noisy as they build up.

Mentioned in this post
Sanctuary Cap Cana by Playa Hotels & Resorts
Sanctuary Cap Cana by...
5,176 Reviews
Dominican Republic
Baltimore, Maryland
Level Contributor
3,301 posts
6 reviews
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6. Re: Secrets vs Excellence Which One to Choose?

lovethesun

What is master agent?

Pennsylvania
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3,413 posts
6 reviews
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7. Re: Secrets vs Excellence Which One to Choose?

Master agents are lingo in the world of AMResorts (secrets properties) who are basically high volume sellers. They can often put together packages or secure lowest rates. There are similar agents who are high volume sellers of Excellence properties and can offer deeper discounts. All agents have their niche and some are able to offer better deals depending on the brand or even type of vacation (cruises, all inclusives, etc) so they aren’t all created equal. Feel free to send me a PM and I can make some recommendations of agents that I have done business with for both Secrets properties and for excellence properties.

Pennsylvania
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3,413 posts
6 reviews
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8. Re: Secrets vs Excellence Which One to Choose?

The closer construction gets to completion, the quieter it actually is because the finishing is inside. The outside of structure is the loudest.

Ontario
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326 posts
14 reviews
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9. Re: Secrets vs Excellence Which One to Choose?

It will be no where close to inside work in December. I don't think the shell has even risen above the privacy fence yet.

Bedford, Canada
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110 posts
31 reviews
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10. Re: Secrets vs Excellence Which One to Choose?

I just returned from Secrets Cap Cana preferred club tropical view room. I would not be inclined to stay on the non-preferred side until construction is complete which will be fall of 2019. It is not evident on the preferred side. I loved the quiet of the preferred pool. The seaweed 5 out of 7 days made it impossible to swim. I have never seen it this bad. 25-50 out into the water totally socked in. The beach was pretty from afar but as you got closer it was unsightly. We are beach people so it was a major disappointment. Also, the beach next door is not cleaned at all so between that and the construction fence walking on the beach was not pleasant.

There were several groups while we were there that mainly took over the main pool and beach area. We were happy for the oasis of the preferred pool. The hotel had several events for them which didn't really interfere with our stay.

The food was a low point of our stay. It just wasn't up to a high standard. There also seemed to be some descriptions on the menu that did not represent what was delivered.

The staff was great and really made an effort to provide a memorable experience.

I got a very good agent rate so I have no room for complaint. If a I was paying regular price, my perspective would likely be much different. We had a very relaxing and enjoyable vacation. I'm still trying to sort my stomach out after our last night Hibachi meal. People say they loved this but the garlic oil the chef used to excess has made both myself and my husband feeling ill for days.

Mentioned in this post
Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa
Secrets Cap Cana Resort...
2,951 Reviews
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